Carlton Linguard didn’t take the floor for Kansas State during Wednesday’s season-opening loss to Drake.
He won’t make his debut Friday against Colorado, either.
A 6-foot-11, 215-pound forward in his first year with the Wildcats, Linguard has been dealing with a lingering back issue. K-State head coach Bruce Weber said Linguard recently returned to the court during practice “for the first time in three months,” however.
“Which is a positive step,” Weber said following Wednesday’s setback versus Drake. “Hopefully (he won’t have any) pain and further setbacks.”
Linguard is one member of the Wildcats’ mammoth class of newcomers this season, along with freshmen Davion Bradford, Luke Kasubke, Seryee Lewis, Selton Miguel and Nijel Pack and junior-college transfer Rudi Williams.
Linguard was a consensus three-star prospect by both Rivals and 247Sports. He ranked as the No. 1 junior college center in the nation — and the No. 12 JUCO player overall — in the 2020 class, according to the 247Sports Composite.
He spent one season at Temple College in Temple, Texas, before enrolling at K-State.
Linguard helped Temple to a 24-7 record last season, with an 8-6 mark in Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference play. He was one of the best players in the junior college ranks in blocked shots and rebounds. His 3.6 blocks per game ranked fourth among junior college players, while he was fifth in offensive rebounds per game (4.3).
Linguard nearly averaged a double-double last season, scoring 13.3 points and grabbing 9.5 rebounds per game. He also made more than 50% (164-for-319) of his field goal attempts in 30 starts for the Leopards.
Linguard, who was named to the NJCAA Region 5 team — one of only five true freshman to earn that honor — as well as the All-Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference squad, led Temple in a plethora of categories last season, including total blocks (109), blocks per game (3.6 blocks per game), total rebounds (285) and offensive rebounds (129). He was second in rebounds per game and defensive rebounds (156), third in field goal percentage and fourth in points per game. He had 12 double-doubles last season, highlighted by a 28-point, 17-rebound, 4-block effort versus Grayson.
He tallied a double-figure point total in 25 of the 30 games he played, with a pair of 20-point performances. Linguard was even better on the boards; along with his 17 rebounds against Grayson, he matched that total versus both Western Texas and Tomball. And he was a shot-blocking machine, with at least four blocks in half the games (15)) he appeared in, and six games of six or and more, topped by an eye-popping 11 rejections against Ranger.
A San Antonio native, Linguard played at Paul Stevens High, leading the team to the Region 4 quarterfinals during his senior season. He combined to average 13 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over 58 games spread across his junior and senior seasons, collecting 16 double-doubles during that time. He was a unanimous first-team all-district 28-6A pick as a senior in 2018-19, improving on his second-team all-district selection as a junior.
Given his diverse skillset, Weber is eager to see Linguard suit up for the Wildcats for the first time.
“It’ll help us,” Weber said.
But Linguard isn’t the only newcomer not at optimum health at the outset of the season. Weber noted that Lewis, who played a little more than two minutes in a reserve role Wednesday, has “missed time also” with an undisclosed issue.
“Seryee’s got some great bounce, gets a couple offensive rebounds and putbacks,” said Weber, referring to Lewis’ four points and two boards in his limited playing time.
The key for Lewis, Weber said, is not getting ahead of himself.
“I just told him, ‘Please be patient,’ because I think he’s going to be a really good player,” Weber said. “The game is going a little fast for him right now, but he does have some bounce and athleticism that you can see. Over the course of time, he will get better.”